A small ceremony at Philadelphia’s National Cemetery included a wreath ceremony, taps and speeches.
The traditional Memorial Day service at Philadelphia’s National Cemetery was wet. But neither the rain, nor the lack of a jacket stopped Karina Barrett from bringing her six-year-old daughter Isabelle to the small ceremony.
Barrett said she wants her daughter to remember those who died in service to the country. “She didn’t want to come this morning,” said Barrett. “But I was like ‘You need to come, you need to see what it is. It’s valuable. It’s important.’ I think it’s so nice to just take this one day to honor those who have done everything and given their lives to protect our nation,” she said.
The ceremony, hosted by Philadelphia’s Disabled American Veterans Council, included a live bugle performance by Aidan Peterson, and commemorative speeches from U.S. Congressmen Dwight Evans, and Gregory J. Whitney, director of the Washington National Cemetery.
Stephen Bachovin, who manages returning veterans’ benefits at the Community College of Philadelphia, highlighted the plight of fallen soldiers’ families. “One of the most painful scars that’s inflicted is not on the veteran but on the people that love that veteran,” he said.
The QueVets of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity performed the wreath ceremony with representatives from four conflicts. The fraternity is dedicated to helping disabled vets access services within the VA.
For Barrett, her army service was a possibility to find herself. “I actually left college to join the military,” she said. “I was just going to school and didn’t have a purpose. And once I finished I knew exactly what I wanted to do.”
These days she is a Spanish teacher at Bensalem High School — where she mentors students interested in the military, and former students who are stationed overseas.
Barrett was born in Ecuador and says that in addition the army being where she met her husband, her service helped to cement her U.S. citizenship.
“A lot of people ask me ‘Oh are you going back home?’ and I’m like, I have my children here, my family, my career, this is home for me,” she said.